hankrules2011

A polymath rambling about virtually anything

Posts Tagged ‘Robot City’

A Review of Perihelion

Posted by Scott Holstad on September 29, 2015

Perihelion (Isaac Asimov's Robot City, #6)Perihelion by William F. Wu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the conclusion to the six book Robot City series and I, for one, found it fairly satisfying. Robot City hasn’t been the best written series I’ve ever read. Perhaps part of the reason is that most of the books were written by different authors, which is an unusual way to go about writing a series. It’s lacked in some ways. The last two books, in particular, I thought were quite bad. But the idea behind the series was original and I appreciated that, and so I continued reading. And I’m glad I did.

In this book, Derec, Ariel, Mandelbrot, and Wolruf find themselves back in Robot City after their horrible time on Earth and they’re searching for the insane Dr. Avery, who has infected Derec with a disease in which “chemfets” have infected his system and, as a result, a miniature Robot City is literally growing inside him and it is killing him. He is weak and needs to sleep all the time and he is in a lot of pain. Meanwhile, Ariel has been cured of the Amnemonic plague and is slowing regaining her memory. That’s good, because she really carries Derec in this book.

When they descend the pyramid they landed on with the Key of Perihelion, Derec and Ariel are immediately accosted by a Hunter robot who attempts to take them captive. In fact, they don’t see too many robots at all. Robot City has changed since they were last there and they come to realize Dr. Avery has reprogrammed the robots somehow for some unknown reason. He’s taken their personalities and creativity away from them and has installed a new “migration” program for all humanoid robots to follow, leaving just a few robots to keep the city running.

The four of them escape the Hunter robot, but more Hunters appear, so they flee. They eventually escape to a warehouse where they hide out. Meanwhile, their old former cyborg friend, Jeff, from a previous book, returns to the planet with a big spaceship, since he owes them a favor, presumably to get them off planet and help save their lives. He knows they’ll be glad to see him. He lands in the middle of the city and is immediately accosted by Hunter robots. He’s stunned. He, too, can see Robot City has changed. Mandelbrot had been able to determine a ship was landing with a human in it, so he takes a truck to the ship in an effort to save him. He does and brings him back to the warehouse. They all swap information and it turns out Jeff had met Dr. Avery through his professor father a few years back. Also, Ariel’s mother had been a big contributor to Dr. Avery’s funds when it came to building Robot City. Derec is too weak to really join in. They decide they have to find Dr. Avery quickly to get him to save Derec’s life, but where to look? They do a scan and find crop fields in the hills outside the city. They decide that must be where Avery is hiding out, so they decide to head there. They decide Mandelbrot and Wolruf should take off separately to act as decoys so the humans can take off in the spaceship and somehow get to the crops to look for Avery.

I don’t want to spoil the surprise ending, but there’s a lot of action and a lot of tension and they do eventually find Avery and all of the mysteries are finally explained. And there are some real shocking surprises at the end of the book. Frankly, I enjoyed the hell out of the final few pages. This isn’t a five star book, but I think it’s a fairly four star effort. I’m glad I ended up giving this series a chance. For some quick, lightweight sci fi — recommended.

View all my reviews

Posted in Writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

A Review of Robot City: Refuge

Posted by Scott Holstad on September 23, 2015

Refuge (Isaac Asimov's Robot City, #5)Refuge by Rob Chilson
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I don’t understand this book, or rather the importance of this book to the series. I don’t think it adds very much to the series and instead think it detracts and distracts. I think it’s poorly written (did you know you can collect water in space for fuel for your space ship?) and the science is spurious and the concept is bad and I have no idea what the series editors were thinking when they thought about this fifth book in the six book series.

So far, Derec and Ariel have been trapped on and in Robot City for the first four books and have been desperate to escape, especially since Ariel’s mysterious fatal illness finally seems to be getting worse and also because Derec wants to find the source of his amnesia. At the end of the last book, they’ve escaped the evil Dr. Avery with Wolruf and Mandelbrot in Dr. Avery’s space ship and are heading out. In this book, they use a Key to Perihelion to transport them to somewhere, anywhere, and to their horror, they wind up on earth. Earth is a spacer’s nightmare. It’s beyond overcrowded. It’s so overpopulated that its entire population is larger than all 50 colonized planets combined! And this is one of the stupid things about the book. When I read that, I thought, holy cow — there must be like 100 billion people on the planet to beat out 50 other planets in some distant future. Everyone lives underground and travels underground and the cities are all underground. How many people are there? Bear in mind that this book was written in 1988. There were probably about five billion people on the planet at the time of publication. So, to my shock, Derec and Ariel were horrified to learn that earth had EIGHT BILLION people living on it!!! Oh my God! Eight billion! More than 50 planets! Um, really? How freaking stupid is that? We already nearly have that many now, just a few decades after publication of this book. Are you telling me this sci fi writer couldn’t look into the future and see serious over population? What a massive moron!

Anyway, Derec and Ariel are on earth and they’re overwhelmed at all the people. I mean, they are surrounded by thousands of people. Thousands. Oh my God. The horror. I can’t imagine. Poor spacers. Apartments are tiny and don’t include bathrooms or kitchens, so they have to share communal bathrooms and go to giant cafeterias. Additionally, earthmen hate robots, so even though Dr. Avery has one in his apartment who helps them, they can’t take it out with them or it would be torn apart.

They find they’re in St. Louis. They travel around, feeling claustrophobic. They get identified as spacers and some people try to attack them. They want to get out to the surface and driving trucks is one of the only ways to do so, so they take a course, but have to withdraw after their fake IDs are identified. Meanwhile Ariel’s getting much worse. The only real redeeming aspect of the book is that she is hospitalized and the medical staff is able to diagnose and cure her of her plague she had gotten on Aurora. Her memories are erased, but they are able to slowly replace many of them, with Derec’s help, but it takes time. Meanwhile, he’s doing very poorly himself and seems to be getting sick. He keeps dreaming of Robot City. He dreams it’s inside him. And then he realizes, somehow, that it is. That it’s growing inside of him and that Dr. Avery did something to him that needs to be fixed only by returning to Robot City in an effort to save his life. Finally, he and Ariel are able to fly to New York City, underground (I want to know how they got the Arch of St. Louis magically underground???), and take a space ship off planet. Soon they are attacked by the same alien from the first book who had captured them, but Wolruf and Mandelbrot show up and the four of them fight him off and destroy his ship. The last paragraph of the book has Mandelbrot using the Key to take all four back to Robot City.

All that said, there’s virtually nothing about Robot City in this book at all. We never see it. It’s not often mentioned. We rarely see robots. We spend virtually all of our time on earth with Derec and Ariel and while it’s minimally interesting, I actually got pretty bored quite soon. I thought it was filler. I thought, aside from finding Ariel’s cure, which could have taken place anywhere, including Robot City, this book really had little to nothing to offer and I don’t even know why it was written. I thought, as in previous books, the dialogue was stilted, the plot line was shaky, the logic was faulty, the science was pretty sad, and the entire representation of earth was beyond unrealistic. Just a poor, poor book. Since I have the last book, I’m going to read it. I think this is a somewhat poor series, not well written, but on the whole, I’ve enjoyed it to a certain degree, in part because it’s fairly original and I appreciate that. It’s also got a lot of mystery about it and I’m hoping all becomes clear in this next book. I can’t recommend this book at all and even if you’re reading this series, I would just skip it, because other than Ariel’s cure, there’s not much else here to make it worthwhile. Looking forward to the final book though….

View all my reviews

Posted in Writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

A Review of Robot City: Cyborg

Posted by Scott Holstad on August 29, 2015

Cyborg (Isaac Asimov's Robot City, #3)Cyborg by William F. Wu
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This third book of the Robot City series wasn’t nearly as good as the first two. In fact, I was pretty disappointed with it. The writer just didn’t seem to have it together. Maybe he’s a new author. I don’t know. The language was stilted and forced. Transitions were left out. It was just bad.

In this book, Derec and Katherine are still trying to locate the lost key so they can leave the planet and get to another planet somewhere. However, the robots of Robot City have hidden it in a well guarded location and it’s virtually impossible to get to.

Speaking of Katherine, Derec learns her real name is Ariel and she’s a rich daughter of a famous woman from the planet of Aurora. She apparently has an unnamed terminal disease that, although not contagious, has gotten her banned from her home planet and she has been searching the galaxy for a cure. Since Derec, who is very angry in this book for some unknown reason, and Ariel fight a lot, this new knowledge softens his stance some and he feels sorry for her and starts to take it easy on her.

One day, when going through the city’s computer, they discover there are three other humans in Robot City. They get excited, thinking these people might have a ship that could get them off world, so they are determined to find them. Meanwhile, a teenager heading to college crash lands in Robot City and nearly dies. The robot medical team doesn’t know enough about human physiology to repair his human body, so they create a new robot body and transplant his brain into it, making him a cyborg. Weird how they can do that, but they can’t fix his human body, huh? Naturally, he’s freaked out, so against their advice, he takes off into the city alone and wanders around. He talks out loud to himself, which is really annoying to read, and he determines that he is the strongest individual on the planet, since he has a robot body, but is still a human and robots have to apply the Three Laws to him. He decides to take over the planet and rule it. Why? No idea. He decides to enlist the two other humans he has found, Derec and Ariel, to help him, so he goes to see them. And gets in a fight with them. Literally. A physical altercation. It’s bizarre. He’s a very tempestuous individual. He later asks Ariel to have her brain transplanted into a robot body and join him in ruling the world and she actually considers it, thinking this could save her from her disease. How incredibly stupid is that? Jeff, the cyborg, is crazy, so Derec and Ariel give the robots instructions to find him and bring him to them. He is eventually caught and is put under the knife by the medical staff. They ask Derec to get naked and let them scan him. Now they know about male human physiology. Yeah. So, they transplant Jeff’s brain back into his old body and fix him up. All it took for them to do that was to scan Derec’s naked body. Okay. Whatever. Bad book, as I said. Meanwhile, two of Derec and Ariel’s old friends from the first book show up in a one person lander. They decide to send Jeff off to college in it and they would stay in Robot City and continue to search for cures for Ariel’s unnamed disease.

It looked to me like the target audience for this book was middle school males. At least it was short, a one day read. And I still like the series and will continue to read on. If you’re reading the series, you’ll want to read this just to know what is happening. However, it’s not much of a stand alone novel, so I’d suggest with starting with the first book and going from there. If you’re reading the series, I cautiously recommend it. If not, I don’t.

View all my reviews

Posted in Writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

A Review of Robot City: Suspicion

Posted by Scott Holstad on August 20, 2015

Suspicion (Isaac Asimov's Robot City, #2)Suspicion by Mike McQuay
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This sequel to Robot City: Odyssey didn’t let me down. We have Derec and Kate still in Robot City, unable to leave, guests of the robots, against their wills. Why are they guests? Well, in my review of the previous book, I said there was a cliff hanger. Here it is. One other human has been on the planet and he has wound up murdered. Since robots can’t murder humans, Derec and Kate are the suspects, even though they weren’t even on the planet when it occurred.

While Kate is obsessed with solving the murder and exonerating themselves, Derec is obsessed with the city itself. See, it’s growing. Constantly. And it rains every night. Hard. He discovers an underground reservoir where the water is about to overflow and destroy the city, but if the city would just stop growing, things would be okay. But he also discovers where the city is growing. Near the reservoir, in underground mines, a zillion robots are helping to build a living organism that evolves and grows — the city, all under the watchful eyes of the robot supervisors. He confronts them and they say it can’t be stopped. He’s frustrated.

Meanwhile, Kate finds the murder site. It’s an enclosed building that needs to have a hole cut into it for her to enter. In it, she finds the naked body of the man called David, strangely, Derec’s given name. When she turns the body over, she freaks out because she sees Derec. She passes out and the robots rush to get Derec to come assist her.

Derec keeps thinking about the city and the robots. He finds the very first robot and quizzes him. It saw a human walking away from him as his first waking sight. Derec is convinced the pyramid at the center of the city plays a key role and enters it, only to be told that the top of it is off limits. He goes in anyway. He goes up some stairs and finds an office. Of a human. Who is obviously not there. And he finds a computer. With files for defense of the city, which he reads. He tries to modify them, but is unable to do so.

Later, he and Kate go to the building housing the dead man. They enter and find the body gone. Derec gets suspicious. The computer had said something about an alien presence in its defensive information. The body had had a cut on its foot. The building was enclosed and had no air. He cut himself and let his blood hit the ground. Immediately, the building closed up around them, enclosing them in it. The blood is the alien presence. Derec now knows what killed David. Carbon monoxide poisoning. Still, the rains come. Derec rushes to the mines to find the supervisors to see if they’ll let him reprogram the core to include hemoglobin in its defenses, as well as to dig further for more space. One of them helps him. They find the core, he programs it, the core accepts it, the city is saved.

Good book. But lots of unanswered questions. Robot City has no communication equipment. It can’t let anyone know Derec and Kate are on their planet, nor can it summon a ship for them. Who is the human overseer and probable creator of the city? Where is he hiding? What happened to their key that brought them there that they hid in the pyramid? Who was David? I guess I’ll be looking for those answers and more in Book Three. It’s a short book and readable in one day. Not too heavy, not too sci fi, except for the robots. But fun, nonetheless. Recommended, assuming you’ve read the first one.

View all my reviews

Posted in Writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

A Review of Robot City: Odyssey

Posted by Scott Holstad on August 18, 2015

Odyssey (Isaac Asimov's Robot City, #1)Odyssey by Michael P. Kube-McDowell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is an interesting beginning to a series commissioned by Asimov’s publisher and with his permission. Indeed, he writes the forward. Of course, the Three Laws of Robotics are in full force here.

A man, who goes by the name of Derec, which is found on the front of his shirt, wakes up on an asteroid with severe amnesia. He has no idea who he is, where he’s from, where he was going, who his family is, what planet he’s from, what his work is, etc. All he knows is that he’s surrounded by robots. Many, many robots. And most of them are pretty darn busy. It looks like they’re mining. He starts wandering around the various levels and meets some of the robots and while they’re respectful, they won’t let him leave the premises for his own safety or rebuild the craft he was in to take off in. After awhile, a space ship is seen coming toward the asteroid and no own knows its intent, but the robots start going wild. They start taking everything on the premises to be burned and once dumped in the incinerator, they jump in after. They’re committing suicide. The ship turns out to be hostile and fires lasers at the asteroid and their colony, wreaking terrible damage. Derec outwits a robot, dons a special suit, and makes it to the surface. At the very end, a robot breaks free and shouts to Derek that they’ve found the key. Derec passes out.

And wakes up on the space ship. Where a very hostile alien is captain of the ship and wants robots for slaves. He’s got some blown up parts and insists Derec build him a robot or else. There are several types of aliens on this large ship and one that looks kind of like a dog becomes a kind of friend to him. Derec somehow builds a robot, but gives it instructions to listen only to Derec as his ultimate master, even while following someone else’s orders. The captain is happy with the robot and promptly tells Derec he wants 50 more. Derec and his doggie buddy make it to the control center of the ship, where the robot and the dog carry off the captain. Derec starts looking for the hidden key the robots gave him, as he’s obsessed with it. As he’s looking, a young woman appears and seems to know him. However, as they’re talking, he’s working on lifting floor boarding and an explosion occurs, knocking everyone out.

Derec wakes up in a hospital room in what he later finds out are weeks later. And his female friend, Kate, is there too, still asleep from her injuries. And they have a robot doctor. They’re on a space station manned entirely by robots. And part of the space ship had come loose and the robots had captured it and brought it back to the station. As soon as Kate, the young woman, is able to get around, they start talking about getting back home, wherever that is. And they talk about the key, which the woman knows about too. However, neither of them knows its significance. Odd. The doggie alien turns up, hiding from the robots and the three of them team up to rescue the key, which the doggie knows the location of. And they pull it off! The three of them end up back in a darkened room and it turns out that the alien knows a little about it. Apparently, it’s a key to a transdimensional travel ability, which is why it’s so wanted. As the robots are closing in on them, Kate and Derec rub it, find a catch, push it and disappear. And appear in the middle of nothingness. They push it again and appear atop a pyramid in a large, beautiful but alien city. They try it again, but it doesn’t work, so they figure it needs time to “recharge.” So they spend the night atop the pyramid.

In the morning, they go for it again and they’re taken back to the land of nothingness. They press the key again, thinking of winding up on Kate’s home planet and they’re dispatched right back to the pyramid. Odd. Derec decides he wants to go down and look around. Kate follows him down. At the bottom, they’re met by robots. They’re taken to a house, where they get cleaned up, and then go to meet the city leaders, who they assume are going to be human. But they’re wrong. More robots. Because they’re in Robot City. There are no humans. They’re stunned. And while they want off the planet and to go back home, it turns out that can’t happen because of an interesting plot twist that leaves you hanging at the end of the book. Completely unresolved. You have to buy the sequel and probably each sequel after that in order to find resolution. This publishing strategy usually bugs me and I’m encountering that with David Weber’s Safehold series, but his books are 800-1100 pages long. This book was only 200 pages and I read it in a day. So I’m not too put off by the idea of reading a few sequels in this series. The writing is simple. The plot is basic. It’s pretty easy to understand. The sci fi isn’t very original. But it’s still fun. It takes you back to a simpler time in sci fi. And if you like robots, you’re in for a treat. Recommended.

View all my reviews

Posted in Writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
%d bloggers like this: